October 22, 2020

The Ecuadorian Amazon, victim of its own wealth

The Ecuadorian Amazon, one of the most biodiverse in the region, has been a victim in recent decades of its own wealth due to extractivism and its side effects, including deforestation and pollution.

While it is true that Ecuador has a tiny portion of the Amazon, only 2-3 percent of the total, its importance is that it is "the most biodiverse region" of the basin, said Efe Natalia Greene, president of the Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and Environment (Cedenma).

A biodiversity that is threatened among other factors by oil exploitation, and that now could also expand to mining.

The secretary of the International Tribunal for the rights of nature, a sort of ethical instance, lamented in that sense that the Government of Lenín Moreno encourages a policy of "we run out of oil (and) so now the great panacea is the mining".

"(Mining) is even worse and has much more serious effects, especially for water systems," said the activist about an industry that Ecuador develops to alleviate its lack of financial liquidity.

Composed of six of the 24 provinces of the country, which occupy about 40 percent of the national territory, in four of them – Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo and Pastaza – there is extractivism, according to number two of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica), Tintiak Katan.

The oil companies, he said, have directly affected between 500 and 600 hectares, and indirectly boosted the colonization, deforestation and contamination of water sources, among others.

Members of the indigenous peoples, main custodians of the Amazonian lands, carry out this Wednesday a series of sittings before government agencies to demand that the authorities comply with local and international legislation that protects their rights and those of nature.

Dressed with plumes, straw belts, necklaces of seeds, bones, and spears in hand, dozens of men and women with their faces painted, mostly of the Waorani Amazon nationality, participated in the rally before the National Assembly in Quito, in which they sang in their original songs songs "for the defense of the territory".

"We want to vindicate once again our position as nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon region, our struggle," the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confeniae), Marlon Vargas, told Efe.

Ecuador, where protests to other organizations continued on Thursday, is the only country on the planet that recognizes in its Constitution the rights of nature, flora and fauna, but it is the Government's own actions that most harm it.

A fact that, Greene believes, makes a region "only 5 percent of biodiversity" "very vulnerable".

Indigenous peoples have launched a series of legal actions in recent years, and in specific cases they have succeeded in curbing oil projects.

This is the case of the ruling last April of a provincial court of Pastaza, in the northeastern region, before a protection appeal filed by the Waorani people against an oil tender.

The opinion provided that a consultation should be repeated to the inhabitants of that original community according to international standards.

Because beyond the ecological damage, there is the impact for indigenous peoples, who see their food sources reduced, access to drinking water, and even pollution.

Located to the east of the Andes mountain range, the Ecuadorian Amazon region is also affected by a deforestation rate "vastly superior to that of Brazil", with a ratio of 0.7 versus 0.2 of the giant in South America.

This was stated by Carlos Larrea Maldonado, coordinator of the climate change and sustainability program at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, by openly criticizing his country's policies as "inefficient" and ensuring that they have led to deforestation affecting between 15 and 15 20 percent of the Amazon.

Larrea agrees that this phenomenon is caused by the expansion of the oil frontier, included in the Yasuni National Park, cataloged "as the most biodiverse place on the planet", but also by poor settlers who seek sustenance and take advantage of the opening of roads to go resettling

"A hectare of the Ecuadorian Amazon in terms of biodiversity and wealth is worth a lot more than a Brazilian hectare," said the expert, who spoke in terms of "crime against humanity" for not properly protecting what is, "he said," the lung of the planet. "

. (tagsToTranslate) Ecuadorian Amazon (t) (t) victim (t) own (t) wealth

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